By Pooya Stone
It took over a week for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to pay even the briefest of visits to the flood-stricken villages of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, but when he did finally arrived he was not greeted with open arms at all.
In fact, the villagers were furious that the authorities had wasted so much money on the Friday Prayers speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the numerous funerals for Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, in addition to the government’s usual wasteful spending, that there was no money to aid the villagers.
The conditions are disastrous, with at least 20,000 homes suffering over 20% damages and at least 250,000 villagers needing urgent aid. Many roads are now blocked and over 40 villages near the Kaju River have no outside road links at all, with no news from locals there for almost a week.
The authorities had been repeatedly warned by the weather forecast experts about the dangers of excess rain causing dams to burst and result in dangerous floods, but the authorities paid no attention and now the people are paying the price. The Iranian authorities have even admitted that the breaking of the dam has devastated local infrastructure, roads, bridges, and aqueducts.
Now, thousands of people are displaced, suffering in mist, cold temperatures, and snowfall, with many unable to seek shelter elsewhere because they’re trapped in their villages. Pictures show people taking refuge from the waters in trees. What makes this worse is that this area was already suffering from extreme poverty.
But still, the government denies aid to the area and the villagers are essentially having to help themselves.
In a video on social media, one resident said: “There are no water purification centers here, no plumbing. Whatever facilities there are have been built thirty years ago.”
While another said: “Yesterday, flood and took away all our belongings. Our sheep died. We have nothing left. The Red Crescent doesn’t even answer the phone. Our homes are broken. Water flooded into our homes. We are all wet and cold.”
Another said that during elections, their villages are overrun by elected representatives, but in times of crisis they are nowhere to be found. The villager said that all the relief being given is the result of fellow Iranians, especially young people.
They said: “When it’s time for elections, they knock on every door and promise to solve all our problems and fulfill our demands. We have no problem. No need. Now’s the time to think about the people of Dashtyari village. Where are you?”